Crews from the City of Boonville have been completing jobs that otherwise would be bid out to other contractors. By having the city do the jobs themselves, they are saving the city money according to Boonville city officials.
“As I have mentioned from time to time, we have been testing the idea of internal construction on several jobs over the past couple years. This essentially means that City crews undertake projects we normally bid out to a private contractor. This effort has been in response to the exorbitant costs of bid projects. In addition, there are always problems of contractor punctuality and performance. There are inevitably disagreements as the project proceeds. The City is usually left displeased with at least some portion of the work,” according to Boonville City Administrator Irl Tessendorf. “I had always attributed the high contract costs to the prevailing wage. While contributory, I no longer believe that is the most significant influence. That being said, I can'l pinpoint what the other causes really are. But, I do know there is an opportunity here.”
Tessendorf added that the city has done Smith Street, Morgan Street Lights, the Force Main job, soccer field grade (infill pond area on Hodges) access road construction to the overflow basin site and now Kemper Admin building sidewalks.
“All the work, so far, has been of good quality and our costs have been less- significantly less- than an anticipated bid price. The best example to date is the Force Main. Meco's estimate was $705,000. My final calculations show a 3I percent savings compared to this estimate. An impressive outcome,” Tessendorf stated. “Smith Street was similar. I am doing calculation on the pond soccer work presently and am monitoring the sidewalks at Kemper. I have less tangible comparison on the Morgan Street lights, but I am satisfied with that project.”
While many of the city crews may be more familiar with certain job aspects, he doesn’t think this idea will impact other sectors of work.
“A risk may be that these couple of projects just happened to be in ‘our sweet spot’ of skills and yielded an excessively optimistic outcome. I don't think so. I will monitor the projects we take on and make a judgement in this context. However, I believe this approach is still merited- highly so- even if the savings decline to say 25 or even 20 percent,” he stated. We have now had a good test of this idea and I am ready to proceed full bore in 2017. We will be aggressive. Indeed, it is possibly accurate to say we have turned ourselves into a small construction
He stated the matter that was always a part of this model was addressing the routine maintenance and work the employees, who are now working on projects, used to do but they are no longer doing.
“My thoughts in the initial model of this initial construction was that we would replace the transferred project people with new hires who may have a lesser pay rate, may be part time or seasonal and maybe a few full time folks. All those salaries have to be paid for by the project of course. We can't just ignore the routine work in the parks or streets,” Tessendorf stated. “This has proven problematic (as I) can't find anybody to work. We have hired one person. However, I think we have encountered an unexpected benefit- an instance of serendipity if you will.”
Overall, Tessendorf believes productivity has increased.
“These projects folks are not expected to work 40 hours every week on projects. Their time can and will be split between project and routine. But the time on the routine was inevitably decreased. We do pretty good, but I would never claim our operation is ‘highly’ productive - getting the most out of every minute. What has happened I think is that given the project work is of higher pay than the routine work there is a push, an incentive to finish the routine work so that they can move to the more lucrative project work. It is interesting. As this year closes, I can't identify a lot of routine things that went unaddressed- street sweeping, perhaps- but we've never been good about that. Nonetheless, this routine focus deserves attention. My new approach is since we can't hire anyone (we still intend to hire one full time person in the park department to take Kerri’s place with the inmate mowing work,” he stated.